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Ann Epidemiol. 2006 Feb;16(2):105-12. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Sex hormone-binding globulin and serum testosterone are inversely associated with C-reactive protein levels in postmenopausal women at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 221 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02215, USA.



C-reactive protein (CRP), androgens, and menopausal loss of endogenous estrogens are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). We hypothesized that high androgens, low estradiol, and low sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) would be associated with high CRP in postmenopausal women.


CRP, SHBG, estradiol, and total testosterone were measured using baseline bloods of 221 hormone therapy (HT)-nonusers and 162 HT-users from a cross-sectional analysis in a nested case-control sample of the Women's Health Study. Hormones and CRP were ln-transformed and relationships were assessed with Spearman correlations and linear regression.


ln-SHBG (beta=-0.40; p<0.01) and ln-testosterone (beta=-0.24; p=0.04) were the only independent hormonal predictors of ln-CRP among HT-nonusers after adjusting for age, hypertension, smoking, body mass index, diabetes, exercise, HDL cholesterol, alcohol intake, and CVD occurrence during follow-up. Upon stratification, the association between ln-SHBG and ln-CRP persisted among HT nonusers who subsequently developed CVD (beta=-0.55; p=0.01), but not among women who remained CVD-free (p=0.28). The inverse relationship between ln-SHBG and ln-CRP was strongest among the leanest women. None of the sex-hormones predicted ln-CRP among HT-users.


SHBG and total testosterone were inversely associated with CRP among HT nonusers in this study. The relationship between SHBG and CRP was more strongly inverse among leaner women.

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